President Sarkisian at UN: Armenia to Declare Protocols with Turkey ‘Null and Void,’ Azerbaijan Has No Legal Claim on Artsakh

President Sarkisian addressing the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (Photo: President of Armenia’s press service)

NEW YORK (A.W.)—Armenian President Serge Sarkisian announced in his address to the 72ndsession of the United Nations General Assembly that Armenia will declare the 2009 Armenia-Turkey Protocols “null and void” if not ratified by the spring of next year, and that Azerbaijan has no legal or moral ground to present any claims on Artsakh.

Sarkisian said the so-called Zurich Protocols, which were signed in 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to allow the opening of borders and to set up formal diplomatic relations between the two nations, “continuously lacked” any positive progress toward implementation.

“The Government of Turkey came up with preposterous preconditions for their ratification that run counter to the letter and spirit of the Protocols,” Sarkisian said in his address. “I expressed the clear-cut views of the Armenian people on this issue three years ago, when I spoke from this eminent podium.”

The deal was brokered by the United States, Russia, and France. In Feb. 2015, President Sarkisian recalled the protocols from Armenia’s Parliament, citing the “absence of political will” on the part of Turkey.

“We will enter the spring of 2018 without those—as our experience has demonstrated, futile—Protocols,” Sarkisian announced during his address at the UN General Assembly.

Sarkisian went on to explain that the people of Artsakh and their choice of self-determination were met with massacres, ethnic cleansing, and mass deportation. “It is obvious that, under such circumstances, the people of Artsakh were left with no other choice than to resort to self-defense,” Sarkisian said. “The grievous war of 1992-1994, its aftermath, and negotiations that followed did not serve as a lesson for Azerbaijan. Last year in April, Azerbaijan unleashed a four-day war, which came to prove that Azerbaijan pursues the objective of extermination of the people of Artsakh.”

Sarkisian noted that during the military offensive launched by Azerbaijan in 2016, a number of war crimes were carried out against Artakh’s civilian population and prisoners of war. “Here I am compelled to mention that a serviceman who committed such atrocities has been decorated with a high state award, and the President of Azerbaijan personally decorated him in front of the cameras,” Sarkisian explained.

Sarkisian then noted that hate speech and Armenophobia is “part and parcel of Azerbaijan’s state policy” for years now and “has taken deep root in the school curricula, intoxicating the younger generation. It has been for years that a number of inter-governmental and nongovernmental specialized organizations dealing with racism and xenophobia have been ringing alarm bells about it,” Sarkisian said. “All of these leads us to believe that the exercise of the right to self-determination by the people of Artsakh is of existential significance. In this regard, I convey the consolidated view of Armenia and Artsakh as well as the one shared by Armenians from all over the globe,” Sarkisian added.

The President then went on to stress that Azerbaijan has no legal or moral claim on Artsakh. “Everyone should be aware that for democratically developing Artsakh Azerbaijan simply symbolizes medieval backwardness. Azerbaijan has no legal or moral ground whatsoever to present any claims toward Artsakh. Artsakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan, and therefore the attempts of its annexation to that particular state framework cannot be justified,” Sarkisian explained.

Sarkisian then announced that Armenia will launch a new initiative to mark the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The President thanked the numerous countries and individuals, state bodies, regional entities, and organizations that have recognized the Armenian Genocide and have the courage to call “things by their proper names.”

“That is, indeed, important since denial paves the way for new crimes of genocide,” Sarkisian noted.